My message to others

Luke Brown was just 34 years old when he collapsed suddenly and died, leaving a young family heartbroken and the community of Kyneton in disbelief.
His wife Vanessa was 28 weeks pregnant with the couple’s second child, George, and had 16-month-old Harvey to care for also.
Luke had suffered a coronary artery atherosclerosis – a blocked artery – but his death could have been prevented by a simple medical checkup.
April 28 marked the first anniversary of Luke’s death and also the beginning of Heart Week, and Vanessa wants to stress the importance of getting regular checkups.
Luke had been complaining of mild chest pain in the 48 hours or so before he collapsed but had put it down to muscle strain and took a few pain killers for it.
“Luke was the kind of guy who didn’t want to go to the doctor, thought he didn’t need to, and he kept on working, carrying on through this pain, and we thought ‘oh you’ve pulled a muscle’, so he just shrugged it off,” Vanessa said.
“Then that Saturday night the pain got worse, and he couldn’t lie down in bed, and he got up and I said ‘are you alright?’ and he said ‘yeah, yeah, I’m fine’ and he went into the bathroom and two minutes later he came out and just collapsed on the floor, and that was it.
“I’d even joked with him ‘oh you’re not having a heart attack are you?’, but there are so many cases of young guys having these sudden deaths.”
Vanessa’s message to others is simple, don’t ignore these signs.
“Luke had a high cholesterol level and that’s something you can easily get checked with a blood test,” she said.
“He had a buildup of plaque and cholesterol in one of his arteries and eventually it just hardened and blocked until there was no blood flow.
“The only way to get something like that checked is to get your cholesterol checked and if it reads really high then an echocardiogram will show there is a lack of blood flow and that will be the first indication that you need surgery.
“If there’s a concern, if there’s just the slightest little thing that you think is not normal, get it checked.
“It does not cost you, it does not hurt to get it checked, it could cost you if you don’t.”
Vanessa also wants to use the anniversary of Luke’s death to thank the people who got her through it.
“I want to thank the community for all their support over the year and for the donations to the Brown Appeal,” she said.
“Especially Brendan and Wendy Coxon for organising the Brown Appeal, and helping me throughout the year, even coming with me for maternal checkups; Elders and their team for their aid and support; Jock and Kate Ferguson and Ash and Nonie Eve for their continuing support and making sure I am looked after; Simon Burnett and the Kyneton Baptist Church for continued counselling and support, and for organising meals for us; Tim and Kylie Lane for becoming a new part of our family, helping me out in so many ways and loving me and my two boys; and my Gisborne Mothers Group who have been a rock and an amazing support in also helping out with my kids.”

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